- Posted By: Sandra Willard
- Contact: Brenda Dawson, (530) 754-3914, email@example.com
“I was the little tag-along with my older sister until I was old enough to join, then I was a 4-H member for nine years, then a volunteer through college, and since college I have been a 4-H staff member,” Gregory said.
Gregory, the 4-H youth development advisor and county director of UC Cooperative Extension Kings County, retired Dec. 31, 2011, after 37 years of service in the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Gregory’s career started as a 4-H advisor in Kern County in 1974, after earning a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from San Diego State University. She later earned a master’s degree in education from California State University, Bakersfield. In 1991, she began working as a UC 4-H youth development advisor for Kings County and became the UC Cooperative Extension director for the county in 2004.
Carol Collar, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Kings County, described Gregory as a “very service-oriented” team player.
“Here in Kings County, the 4-H program is very highly valued. She provided excellent leadership and support to leverage volunteer resources for the 4-H program,” Collar said. “Peggy really worked at providing all youth — not just those in the traditional 4-H programs, but all youth — with essential elements in youth development.”
Gregory partnered with various organizations to provide development opportunities for youth in Kings County. One such project was Teen Teams in 2008, which trained at-risk high school students to lead fun, hands-on science activities with younger children in elementary after-school programs. Community collaborators for this program included former NFL player Dameane Douglas and Hanford police officers.
“The program was great because it gave kids who had self-esteem issues a sense of worth by telling them, ‘You're going to teach, and you're going to lead those younger kids,’” said Hanford Police Chief Carlos Mestas. “I like the fact that it brought together different groups of people who wouldn’t normally cross paths for this very, very positive program.”
Through Teen Teams and similar programs, Gregory has trained more than 50 at-risk teens to lead science projects with elementary school students in this rural community.
Gregory worked with volunteer development throughout her career, as a critical component of youth development programs and part of her career’s overarching philosophy.
“A good youth development program engages the entire community to support its youth,” she said. “You really can’t have a strong youth development program without a strong community to support it — and obviously part of that is volunteers in the community who are willing to work with young people.”
More than half of Kings County’s population is of Hispanic or Latino origin, and in 2007 Gregory was the principal investigator of a project examining civic engagement in Latino communities. The project culminated in the ANR publication, “Recommendations for Working in Partnership with Latino Communities.”
Dave Campbell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in community studies with the UC Davis Human and Community Development Department, said the outcomes of the study were eye-opening.
“The project expanded the range of our thinking about different modes of engaging with the diverse communities in our state,” he said. “Peggy was really the driving force in getting this project going, and it stemmed from really deep-seated, personal and professional interest she had in the project’s questions.”
Gregory also helped create the state’s first mandatory 4-H volunteer orientation and continued to work on volunteer development and policy for 4-H throughout her career.
Though Gregory said she is taking a break from 4-H after 53 years, she has been granted emeritus status and has offered to mentor 4-H staff and volunteers.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
Mahacek was an industrious youngster. In addition to participation in 4-H projects in electricity, woodworking, cooking and raising cattle, he worked on the family farm and managed a 120-home newspaper route for 6 years. His earnings from the paper route and selling the animals he raised in 4-H went towards his college education.
Mahacek earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial arts at San Jose State University in 1974. He considered a career as a high school shop teacher, but ultimately chose a path that allowed him to extend the benefits he derived from 4-H with youth of subsequent generations. He was named the 4-H Youth Development advisor for Merced County in 1976. In 2005, Mahacek added administrative duties to his job, when he was named director of UC Cooperative Extension in Merced County.
During his career, Mahacek placed an emphasis on mechanical sciences and engineering projects. His work included development of curricula and activities in science processes, robotics, computers, GIS/GPS, bio-security and environmental issues, such as watersheds and wildlife habitats.
In 1988, Mahacek was a member of the team that developed the 4-H SERIES (Science Experiences and Resources for Informal Educational Settings) curriculum, which was funded by the National Science Foundation and Kellogg. SERIES was the first comprehensive pragmatic science education curriculum to join 4-H’s traditional projects. In 2004, Mahacek served on the national leadership team for 4-H SET (Science, Engineering and Technology), a program that succeeded SERIES. SET aims to enhance young people’s interest in developing the knowledge and skills needed for the 21st century’s technically oriented careers.
The crowning achievement of his career was the development of the 4-H Junk Drawer Robotics curriculum in 2011. The curriculum shows how to engage children in building robotic devices with rubber bands, Popsicle sticks, medicine dispensers and bamboo skewers – the kinds of things people already have around the house. The robotics program develops skills that go beyond science and engineering. The children learn communications, teamwork and critical thinking.
“Junk drawer robotics is hands-on as well as heads-on,” Mahacek said. “We’re getting kids to be innovative, to come up with ideas themselves. When they come up with their own designs, and then build them, they have internalized the concepts much more than if they are just following directions.”
Junk drawer robotics is one part of a three-track robotics curriculum. The other tracks are virtual robotics, in which participants build virtual robots on computers, and robotics platforms, which employs commercial robot building kits for materials. The package of robotics programs was the No. 1 selling 4-H curriculum in the nation in 2011.
Mahacek received many honors for his contributions to 4-H and UC Cooperative Extension. In 1988 he received distinguished service awards from the state and national 4-H associations. The Merced County Farm City Ag Business Committee presented him its Agri-Education Award in 1992. When his daughter, Anne, was part of UC Merced’s first graduating class in 2008, Mahacek, his wife Susan and Anne received the UC Merced Student Affairs Parent-Family Recognition Award. Last year, Mahacek received the “Hands-On Heroes Award” at the Merced County Children’s Summit.
Mahacek said the 4-H program has evolved during his tenure, but it has not changed its core objectives.
“We went from being a predominantly ag program to including many other topics. Our members used to live in just rural settings, but now they come from the suburbs and urban neighborhoods,” Mahacek said. “But we’re still promoting the concept of working together and gaining confidence by learning practical skills.”
He said 4-H is fundamentally different from programs that focus specifically on developing self-esteem.
“In 4-H, we teach kids positive things to do and make and it builds their self-esteem when they have these abilities and capabilities,” Mahacek said.
All three of Mahacek’s children were active 4-H members, achieved 4-H All Star status – the highest county honor – and pursued higher education and careers in science and engineering.
In retirement, Machacek plans to visit Europe and, in particular, Southern France, where his middle son is working on an ocean acidification research project. Closer to home, Mahacek also plans to spend more time in his backyard workshop, where he is restoring a 1967 Pontiac Firebird and farm equipment that dates back to the early 1900s.
- Posted By: Jeannette E. Warnert
- Written by: Janet Byron, (510) 665-2194, firstname.lastname@example.org
Total membership in the CSAs surveyed (n = 46) increased exponentially from an estimated 672 members in 1990 to 32,938 members in 2010. Most CSAs in California’s Central Valley and surrounding foothills were relatively small (20 acres on average), produced a broad range of crops (44 on average) and adhered to organic or sustainable growing practices.
Likewise, 54 percent of the CSA farms surveyed were profitable; of the rest, 32 percent broke even and 15 percent operated at a loss. Gross average sales for the CSAs surveyed were $9,084 per acre in 2009; this compares with average gross sales of $1,336 per acre for California agriculture in general.
Despite their increasing popularity, little is known about CSA farmers and their operations. UC researchers conducted a comprehensive study of CSA farmers in the Central Valley and surrounding foothills about their growing practices, farm economics, demographics and other characteristics. The article in full and the entire January–March 2012 issue of California Agriculture can be found at: http://californiaagriculture.ucanr.org.
CSAs eliminate distributors, forging direct connections between farmers and consumers; California has about 275 CSAs, and there are more than 3,500 nationally. The researchers found that CSAs are adapting and changing to meet consumer interest in and demand for locally produced food.
“Together with farmers markets, farm stands, U-picks and agritourism, CSAs constitute a ‘civic agriculture’ that is re-embedding agricultural production in more sustainable social and ecological relationships, maintaining economic viability for small- and medium-scale farmers and fulfilling the non–farm-based population's increasing desire to reconnect with their food,” Ryan Galt, UC Davis assistant professor in the Department of Human and Community Development, and co-authors wrote in California Agriculture journal.
The CSA model has undergone considerable change and innovation, the researchers found, with growers offering new products such as meat and dairy and making payment options more attractive to consumers. When the first CSAs were started on the East Coast in the mid-1980s, members paid in advance and received a share of the farm’s crop in return, and they also shared in production risks. Today’s CSAs allow consumers more flexibility and less risk. “Twenty percent of CSAs in the study had no minimum payment period, allowing week-by-week payments, which extends membership to a broader population, including those hesitant or unable to commit to extended payments,” the authors wrote.
The study team also interviewed CSA farmers about what motivated them. “Even though a CSA is hard work, farmers tend to find it rewarding,” Galt and co-authors noted. “The vast majority were happy with their work and continued to view the CSA as a viable option for small- and medium-scale farmers.”
Also in the January–March 2012 issue of California Agriculture:
Farm-to-WIC study: The federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) now distributes monthly cash vouchers to low-income women with children to buy fruits and vegetables. UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) researchers surveyed WIC participants in Tulare, Alameda and Riverside counties in 2010 to guide the development of a farm-to-WIC program that would connect local growers to the WIC market. Based on WIC participants’ produce preferences and buying habits, they developed a list of 19 produce items for possible inclusion in the program, including broccoli, cabbage, collards, nopales, sweet potato and tomatillo.
Preventing Fusarium wilt of lettuce: Caused by the soilborne fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lactucae, Fusarium wilt affects all major lettuce production areas in California and Arizona. In trials at UC Davis, lettuce cultivars differed significantly in susceptibility to the disease, with some leaf and romaine types highly resistant under all test conditions. Management of Fusarium wilt requires an integrated approach that includes crop rotation to reduce soil inoculum levels and the use of resistant cultivars during the warmest planting windows.
Also in the online-only E-Edition of California Agriculture:
Biological control for citrus pests: In a spring 2010 survey and statistical analysis, growers with greater citrus acreage and more education were more likely to use biological controls for four important citrus pests (California red scale, citrus red mite, citrus thrips and cottony cushion scale). Marketing outlets, ethnicity and primary information sources also influenced the extent of reliance on beneficial insects.
California Agriculture is the University of California’s peer-reviewed journal of research in agricultural, human and natural resources. For a free subscription, go to: http://californiaagriculture.ucanr.org, or write to email@example.com.
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- Posted By: Pamela Kan-Rice
- Written by: Iqbal Pittalwala, (951) 827-6050, email@example.com
Yates joined the faculty of UC Riverside in 1987, and has served in several leadership roles during her tenure at the university. These include chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences; associate executive vice chancellor; chair of the CNAS Executive Committee; co-chair of the Committee on Academic Personnel; program leader for University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources; associate co-director of the One Health Center, University of California Global Health Institute (UCGHI); and UCGHI’s co-director of education.
“CNAS has outstanding faculty, dedicated staff, and excellent students,” Yates said. “Over the coming months, we all will be working together to redesign our college. Our goal is to better enable faculty to conduct cutting edge research, to foster interdisciplinary collaborations necessary to tackle the most difficult problems facing society, and to create an environment that will allow us to continue to attract the brightest students and the best new faculty.”
Yates’s research focuses on the transmission of human pathogenic microorganisms in environmental media, particularly water and wastewater. She serves on several advisory committees, panels and boards for water quality, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board Drinking Water Committee and the National Research Council’s Water Science & Technology Board. Currently, she serves as editor for Applied & Environmental Microbiology.
A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2007) and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (2011), she is a recipient of UCR’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2001-02) and was named Distinguished Teaching Professor (2006).
Yates received her doctoral degree in microbiology from the University of Arizona, Tucson, in 1984. She has a master’s degree in chemistry from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
During his tenure as dean of CNAS, Baldwin, a biochemist, helped expand the college’s profile externally and promoted the cause of science education. He launched a highly successful Science and Society lecture series, created the Science Circle, penned opinion pieces, and established the Science Ambassador program. Baldwin reached out to community leaders, educators, and industry for purposes of fundraising, science education, and developing partnerships. He will continue to perform some of these outreach activities as the college’s executive associate dean for external relations.
- Posted By: Pamela Kan-Rice
- Written by: Kathy Keatley Garvey, (530) 754-6894, firstname.lastname@example.org
The discovery, announced this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may generate better conservation efforts for the imperiled woodpecker and may lead to far-reaching benefits in controlling cockroaches in urban environments, said Coby Schal, the Blanton J. Whitmire Professor of Entomology at North Carolina State University.
The scientific team characterized and synthesized the “mating scent” that the flightless female broad wood cockroach, Parcoblatta lata, releases to attract suitors. Only the males fly; the females live beneath decaying logs in the pine forests of southeastern United States.
The red-cockaded woodpecker, Picoides borealis, lives in old-growth pine forests, excavating nesting sites in large-diameter trees. Native to the southeastern United States, its population has now dwindled to 1 percent of its original population and it is extinct in at least three states, New Jersey, Maryland and Missouri. It is especially sensitive to habitat disturbances and loss of its main food supply. The broad wood cockroach constitutes more than 50 percent of its diet.
Because the cockroach pheromone attracts large numbers of male suitors – all males excellent flyers – the research should help determine whether there is enough woodpecker food in a given area.
"Besides serving as the main diet of the endangered woodpeckers, the adult male cockroaches occasionally infest houses after being attracted to porch lights and the flightless females and nymphs are brought into homes with firewood," Schal said. The synthetic compound could be used to deter cockroach populations.
Hailing the research as helping an endangered species, Leal pointed out that the newly identified sex pheromone may be used “to monitor the quality and suitability of foraging habitat of the red-cockaded woodpecker.”
“Most pheromones and compounds involved in insect chemical communication can be used as environmentally friendly tools for monitoring and controlling populations of agricultural pests and insects of medical importance,” Leal said. “I was particularly thrilled collaborating with my friend Coby Schal to identify this cockroach sex pheromone not only because the chemical structure was unusual and challenging, but also given the potential applications of this green chemical in conservation biology.”
Schal said that the synthetic version of the pheromone attracted a few other Parcoblatta species. It did not attract the Parcoblatta pennsylvanica. Because the compound attracted some Parcoblatta species and not others, this “tells us something about their evolutionary history,” Schal said. While Parcoblatta cockroaches are endemic to North America, the more commonly known pest cockroaches were introduced here from other countries.
The newly discovered pheromone is nicknamed “parcoblattalactone.” It is a previously unknown pheromonal structure, but one which “highlights the great chemical diversity that characterizes olfactory communication in cockroaches,” the scientists wrote in their abstract.
In addition to Schal and Leal, the co-authors of the PNAS paper were Dorit Eliyahu, Satoshi Nojima and Cesar Gemeno, all former members of Schal’s lab; Richard Santangelo, a NC State research specialist; and Shannon Carpenter, Frances Webster and David Kiemle of the State University of New York.
The research was funded by the Blanton J. Whitmire Endowment at NC State.